Runes (also referred to as Ancient Runes) are the letters (symbols representing various sound values) of a runic alphabet. Runes are studied at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry under the title "Study of Ancient Runes".
Below is a list of all the known runes, along with their meanings
- Demiguise: the creature's invisibility abilities represents "0".
- Unicorn: the creature's single horn represents "1".
- Graphorn: the creature's dual horns represent "2".
- Runespoor: the triple-headed creature represents "3".
- Fwooper: the creature comprised of four different colours in feathers represents "4".
- Quintaped: the five legs of the creature represents "5".
- Salamander: the maximum hours of the creature's ability to survive out of fire represents "6".
- Unknown: due to the magically powerful number still being shrouded in mysteries, the unknown symbol represents "7".
- Acromantula: the eight-eyed creature represents "8".
- Hydra: the nine-headed creature represents "9".
- Although only a small number of runes are revealed in the books, other corners of the franchise reveal more; the purple cloak that the depiction of Dumbledore is seen wearing on the children's back cover art of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is inscribed with a wealth of runes, as are the placards that prisoners of Azkaban hold up in the film adaptations. Below is a list of the runes that appears on them:
- Fehu (Lucius Malfoy's Azkaban placard, cover art)
- Uruz (Lucius Malfoy's Azkaban placard, cover art)
- Ansuz (cover art)
- Raido (cover art)
- Kaunan (Sirius Black's Azkaban placard)
- Gebo (Sirius Black's Azkaban placard, cover art)
- Isa (cover art)
- Teiwaz (Lucius Malfoy's Azkaban placard)
- Berkana (cover art)
- Perth (Sirius Black's Azkaban placard)
- Algiz (Sirius Black's Azkaban placard)
- Sowilo (cover art)
- Ehwaz (Order of the Phoenix, cover art)
- Mannaz (Lucius Malfoy's Azkaban placard, cover art)
- Laguz (cover art)
- Othila (Lucius Malfoy's Azkaban placard, cover art)
- Dagaz (cover art)
Whilst still shrouded in mystery, runic appears to be used frequently in the modern wizarding world. The runes themselves appear to be used principally as a stand-ins for letters of the Latin alphabet, as well as whole words (as logograms). For example, Dumbledore's copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, the name Albus Dumbledore was written entirely in runic, requiring translation before mass-production for the general public.
- Bathsheda Babbling - teacher of the Study of Ancient Runes at Hogwarts.
- Barty Crouch Jr
- Albus Dumbledore
- Hermione Granger - translated the The Tales of Beedle the Bard from the original runic alphabet into modern English.
- Luna Lovegood (possibly)
- Xenophilius Lovegood (possibly as he used them in the Quibbler)
- Bill Weasley
- Percy Weasley
- Eduaphora Mergus
- Merlin (possibly)
Behind the scenes
- The 7 Elder Futhark runes thus far not represented in the franchise are: Thurisaz (þ a.k.a. "th"), Jera (j), Wunjo (W), Hagalaz (h), Naudiz (n) and Ingwaz (ŋ a.k.a. "ng").
- All the runes represented in the franchise belong to the Elder Futhark runic alphabet in real life (with the exception of the numbers, which are entirely fictitious).
- It is not truly known to what extent the Elder Futhark runes retain their meanings in the Harry Potter universe; One runic word on the HP&PS cover art (on Dumbledore's cloak) spells out DUMBLEDARE in Latin. However, the "A" was probably a mistake ( meant to have been an "O", Othila in runic) and so they most likely relate to the letters in the Latin alphabet the same way in the franchise as they do in real life.
- It is possible that more than just one runic alphabet is in use in the wizarding world, albeit with some wizarding additions - such as the aforementioned numbers (given the length of study that may be allotted to their study in the Hogwarts Curriculum and the number of books on the subject). However, Elder Futhark is probably the most popular given how frequently it is seen throughout the series.
- One of the possible questions in the Sorting quiz at Pottermore mentions that Merlin marked his possessions with a mysterious rune. Since this is just a possible answer to a hypothetical question, it is unclear if Merlin actually used this symbol as his mark in historical canon.
- As the teachers at Hogwarts had to enter their magic rune on the evaluation form given to it by the Dolores Umbridge, as well as that it was a magical rune of Alastor Moody's file on Umbridge's office in 1998, it is possible that these features are of particular importance, and serves as a form of identification or a similar social security number.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Seen only on posterior, UK children's cover art)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Mentioned in the name Ancient Runes)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film) (Mentioned in the name Ancient Runes & seen on Sirius's Azkaban placard)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Mentioned in the name Ancient Runes)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) (Seen only on Lucius Malfoy's Azkaban placard)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film) (Mentioned on The Quibbler on Disc 2)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (Mentioned only)
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard (real) (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault (mentioned only)
Notes and references
- ↑ According to his father, Bartemius Crouch Sr., B.C. Jr. obtained twelve O.W.L.s, the maximum number attainable (which would, naturally, include Study of Ancient Runes.
- ↑ According to possible questions posed on the sorting quiz on Pottermore, Merlin may have owned a book handwritten in runes and used a rune as his personal mark.